Remembering Nolan Frederick, a talented actor, singer

Nolan Frederick, centre, with founder and festival director of the TT Film Festival Bruce Paddington and journalist Franka Philip at the premiere of the TT Film Festival in 2015. - Photo courtesy TT Film Festival
Nolan Frederick, centre, with founder and festival director of the TT Film Festival Bruce Paddington and journalist Franka Philip at the premiere of the TT Film Festival in 2015. - Photo courtesy TT Film Festival

Nolan Frederick was a triple threat in the theatre industry: he could act, dance, and sing. But most of all he was a beautiful person.

That was how most people who knew him described Frederick, who died of lung cancer on April 25.

Known to his friends and family as Keith, Frederick was born in London, but grew up in Belmont, Port of Spain. He performed all over the world including the National Theatre in Oslo, Norway; in London's West End; and most recently at Shanghai Culture Square in China.

His large number of credits included Rent, Cats, Ragtime, Starlight Express, The Lion King, La Cage Aux Folles, Gone With the Wind, Kiss Me Kate, Bat Boy, Me and My Girl, How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying, The Pajama Game, Miss Saigon, Starlight Express, Hair, Robinson Crusoe, Five Guys Named Mo, West Side Story and The Bodyguard.

Since the announcement of his death there have been numerous tributes on social media.

On Facebook, British actor Miriam Margolyes said, “A sad report to my Me and My Girl Sheffield cast. Our adorable colleague, Nolan Frederick died today. He'd had cancer for a while. A brilliant, lovely man, life and love shone out of his eyes. We are all bereft. Dance on my dearest boy. A light has been extinguished far too soon. Bless his dear memory.”

Dancer and friend Arlene Wilkes said, “My dear dear friend, Keith (Nolan Frederick) passed away today. After a long, hard battle he finally succumbed to cancer. I cannot express how sad I feel. We were only 16 when we met in 1981 at the Dance Centre in Port of Spain. We instantly hit it off and have been good friends and colleagues ever since.”

She said they danced together in a couple of Trinidad Dance Productions shows as well as Carte Blanche Dance Company, Oslo Dance Ensemble and several musical theatre and TV productions in Oslo, Norway.

She said Frederick was always fun to be around and they called themselves "de boy" and "de gyul."

“Keith was a natural, with loads of talent. He was an amazing Dancer, Singer, Actor, Performer... and a loving and generous soul... Keith, I will miss your face, your broad and wicked smile, your teasing, our conversations, your fantastic sense of humour... I will treasure our friendship and cherish all the wonderful memories of you forever.”

On Twitter, people such as UK talk show host Graham Norton and theatre director Andrew Keates as well as actors, former cast members and fans expressed their sorrow at his passing.

Norton said, “So sad to hear about the passing of #NolanFrederick he was the kindest, most generous soul to ever grace a stage. His talent and his spirit will be greatly missed. My thoughts go out to his family and loved ones.”

Keates said, “I have a bloody big pain in my heart as I have just learned the beautiful, funny, charismatic, charming, outrageous, talented & KIND #NolanFrederick has passed away. There’s just not enough lights in the West End to dim in his honour. I’ll miss you old friend.”

Frederick’s cousin Thais McGowan said she was told that as a youth he was always dancing. People questioned why he did not play basketball, as he was so tall, but he wanted to dance and he pursued it as a career. As a result, he lived life his way which led him to travel the world.

“He made his way in it and as a family we’re just so proud of him, especially our grandfather who passed recently. They had a close bond, especially in his adulthood.”

Nolan Frederick on stage in 2016. -

She said even though he was in his mid-fifties, he was young at heart and had a boyish charm. He would also do anything for his family.

“He was such a joy. He was a beautiful human being. He lit up a room. And even if you didn’t see him physically, if you spoke to him on the phone, his voice was the most joyous thing ever. He left such a huge impact on so many people.”

She said the family hoped to have a memorial service next year on the anniversary of his death.

Frederick's friend Wendell Manwarren, actor, director and member of rapso band of 3canal, said Frederick was a man who lived his dreams.

“When I met him we were still young, aspiring performers and he was already performing in the West End in big musicals. He was doing what we were striving to do on a big scale, so he was an inspiration. But for somebody who had reached that level, he was still very down to earth, very accessible, and incredibly funny. You couldn’t be in his company and not have a good laugh.”

He said he saw many West End shows when he visited London because of Frederick and was shocked to find out that he had died.

Another friend, journalist Franka Philip, said she met Frederick when they used to play mas in Peter Minshall’s band. She said he was a remarkable person who did not hesitate to help those with an interest in theatre.

“He was very generous in his advice to younger actors and others, particularly Trinis, getting into the whole theatre scene in the UK. He was able to help them find their way. His reach in being an adviser and mentor was very wide.”

She recalled a time when he visited Trinidad when HBO’s Game of Thrones TV series was running. The actor, who played Septa Unella and cried out “Shame!” during Cersei Lannister’s walk of atonement was his friend, so he called her and got her to send a voicenote saying her famous line for his local friends.

Canda-based producer, director and actor Rhoma Spencer said she met Frederick in the early 90s. She described him as talented, sweet, jovial and humble.

“He was a beautiful person, always smiling. We will miss him.”


"Remembering Nolan Frederick, a talented actor, singer"